There’s a reason they say people diagnosed with lupus are fighting a silent disease. While everything may appear normal from the outside, there is a war going on within. Sometimes you lose a battle (or two) and have a flare up, but that doesn’t mean you stop fighting.
Common triggers for a lupus flare are too much sun exposure, emotional and/or physical stress, overworking yourself, and not getting enough rest. Exercise and stress management are key to keeping flares at bay, but they still happen. That’s why we’ve got some tips to help you during a flare and prep for a rheumatologist visit.
Rest. Lying in bed is not laziness. Give yourself permission to rest. Take a day off from work and chores to help heal your body. Try an Epsom salt bath—it helps remove toxins by strengthening your magnesium absorption while helping to reduce joint pain and inflammation.
Nourish Your Body. Provide your body with the nutrition it craves to recover faster, like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and proteins. You can also try sipping ginger tea. This anti-inflammatory antioxidant can help reduce pain and swelling. Or sprinkle a little turmeric, also an anti-inflammatory, on your food or add it to warm milk. And don’t forget to stay out of the sun, as UV exposure can worsen symptoms.
Mind Your Mental Health. Do you meditate? It can create a sense of calm to help reduce the intensity of pain and stress from the flare. Depression and anxiety can be common with lupus, so consult a cognitive behavioral therapist—they can help you with management while providing a fresh outlook to living with a chronic illness.
Taking Meds. Mild flares may not require medication, however moderate to severe flares often do. If you experience frequent flares, your healthcare provider may consider other lupus medications that could be more effective at preventing flares.
Prep for a Rheumatologist. Use this time to practice your self-advocacy skills by scheduling an appointment to see your rheumatologist. They have specific training in diseases that affect the joints, muscles, and bones, making them a valuable resource for you. Before your visit, put together a detailed list of all your symptoms and dates of recent flares. You might also want to come up with key questions you want to ask. During this visit they will do an examination and talk with you about your symptoms. Be prepared to schedule more visits for testing and to follow up with the doctor. Finally, think about asking someone to join you. They can take notes while you stay engaged with your doctor, which can be helpful when discussing next steps and possible treatment plans.